Democratic engagement as denudation : moving beyond risk taking

Waghid, Y. ; Davids, N. (2016)

CITATION: Waghid, Y. & Davids, N. 2016. Democratic engagement as denudation : moving beyond risk taking. South African Journal of Higher Education, 30(4):1-10, doi:10.20853/30-5-703.

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In this article, we argue that democratic engagement as a form of human action can be enhanced if enacted through disclosure. Firstly, we expand on the notion of democratic engagement whereby human action is enacted through democratic iterations, mutual respect and humanness. Secondly, we argue that practising humanness, such as when one learns from others, can most appropriately be enacted when one becomes reflectively open to the new, and reflectively loyal to the known. Thirdly, because of the latter point, we draw on Giorgio Agamben’s (2011) notion of denudation whereby it is argued that forms of human engagement can become substantively democratic if enacted through an unconcealed disclosedness, in other words, an unveiling of the self in which visibility and presence (nudity) hold sway. Inasmuch as others open themselves up to one, so one ought to disclose oneself to others in order for the encounter to remain democratic. And, when such a form of democratic engagement assumes a form of denudation, the possibility is always there that human action will be enacted through an unveiling of the self, which is infinitely free of secret. Hopefully then, democratic engagement will be more unconstrained and unrestricted by that which might be otherwise contained.

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